News Briefs

Valdez Star Staff and the Associated Press


Valdez Star photo

Bob Engebretson and Nick Weicht joined dozens of other like-minded guys and donned red high heels to Walk a Mile in her Shoes."

Walk a Mile

Dozens of male supporters showed up in the rain Saturday to "Walk a Mile in her Shoes."

The fundraiser and public awareness campaign is sponsored by Advocates for Victims of Violence, AVV.

A scheduled appearance by Gov. Bill Walker was canceled due to weather according to John Hozey, his deputy chief of staff. Hozey made the announcement sporting a pair of pouty red pumps.

The event encourages men to walk a mile in red high-heeled shoes to raise funds a bring awareness to violent crimes against women. A number of participants ran the mile in high heels, while some pushed strollers and many were joined by women - most sporting more sensible footwear.

Marketing meeting

The Valdez City Council has posted notice of a special meeting to held Thursday night. Valdez Marketing Plan is the stated purpose of the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the city council chambers.

Alyeska safety award

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was recognized with a Governor's Safety Award of Excellence for the second year in a row at the recent Alaska Governor's Safety & Health Conference in Anchorage according to a company press release.

"This award is presented to groups demonstrating excellence in safety and health systems that protect their employees in the workplace and promote corporate citizenship," the company said. "...Alyeska has received this award in the past, as well."

Justice change

(AP) With just days left in the legislative session, the state House is set to consider a bill that would make sweeping changes to Alaska's criminal justice system.

The state Senate on Saturday approved a measure that moves away from tough-on-crime programs that have been a staple of Alaska's criminal sentencing structure since it gained statehood.

"I think you can call this a little bit of a paradigm shift, if that's what you want to call it," bill sponsor Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said before the vote. "That means a lot of things are going to change."

The bill proposes investment in pre-trial monitoring programs, changes in probation and parole requirements, and drug and mental health treatment programs to reduce the state's prison population and recidivism rate or the number of repeat offenders.

The Department of Corrections projects changes in the bill would reduce the state's prison population by more than 1,700 inmates by 2019.

Critics of the bill include some victims' rights groups and a group of police departments, including the North Pole Police Department, which sent a letter asking lawmakers to abandon the proposal.

Medicaid lawsuit

(AP) Minority Democrats unsuccessfully sought to force a vote on whether the Legislature should continue pursuing a challenge to Gov. Bill Walker's authority to expand Medicaid on his own.

The Legislative Council sued last summer, arguing that Walker overstepped his authority in expanding Medicaid without legislative approval. A state court judge dismissed the case last month and entered a final judgment Tuesday.

The Legislature's top attorney, in a memo to the council's chair, has said that once the Legislature is in session, the council's interim authority ends and a decision on whether to appeal requires a House and Senate vote. Minority Democrats sought to force a vote Friday but were blocked.

Some legislative leaders say the lawsuit was undertaken with the expectation it would go to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Scholarships saved

(AP) A state-sponsored scholarship program will remain intact for high-performing Alaska students.

Senate Finance Committee co-chair Anna MacKinnon said Friday that the committee would not move a bill that would end state-sanctioned student scholarship and financial aid programs after hearing compelling testimony from the executive director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, Diane Barrans.

Barrans had told the committee more than 12,300 students qualified for the scholarship during the last four years. She said qualifying students needed fewer remedial courses and earned college credits faster than other students.

The commission in January released a report that included the same details.

Senate Finance co-chair Pete Kelly couldn't say what might happen with another committee bill calling for higher local contributions toward a teachers' pension system. Kelly suggested using money from the scholarship and aid programs to help with local costs initially.


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